Remember those single-use camcorders that CVS started selling last year? Now, Pure Digital Technologies, the company that made them, has added a USB connector that swings out of the side of the unit and stuffed viewer software inside it to make a simple plug-and-play model that it calls the world's first point-and-shoot camcorder. It goes on sale at Target today for $129.99.
The camera stores as much as 30 minutes of VGA-quality video on internal flash memory, so capacity and quality are limited. But it has a 1.4-inch LCD screen on back for instant review, so you can delete any clips right away that you decide you don't want, and it has a video output, so you can view clips on any TV with a composite-video input. It seems a bit pricey for video that you could probably capture with most of the still cameras being sold today, but it may come in handy for situations where you're afraid you might break your fancy little point-and-shoot. Plus, if the plug-and-play interface turns out to be as simple as claimed, it might be useful for the technologically illiterate. If you're really lazy, you can bring the Pure Digital to any CVS, Rite-Aid, or Ritz/Wolf Camera store that processes the single-use version; for a $10 fee and a 1-hour wait, they'll make a DVD of any footage stored on the camera.
Interestingly, Pure Digital has licensed the camera to RCA, which will market them for the same price under the name RCA Small Wonder camcorders. We expect a working sample to arrive today and will report back here tomorrow to let you know what we think of it.